The goal to parse California’s prison population won landslide approval (64% to 35%) following passage of Proposition 57. As an effect of the November 2016 election, new sentencing rules, announced yesterday by Corrections officials, are projected to cut the prison population by 9,500 inmates after four years.

Non-violent felons, affected by the proposed new rules, will be eligible to earn credits. Obtaining a college degree can reduce their sentence up to 6 months each year. Participating in self-help programs, such as substance abuse support groups, can reduce their sentence up to 1 month each year.

Additional credit-earning programs include counseling, anger management, victim awareness, restorative justice, and parenting classes.

All inmates need not apply

The proposed new rules do not apply to all prisoners: inmates on death row or serving life sentences (with no parole) are ineligible.

California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR) seeks to: incentivize inmates encouraging them to take responsibility for their rehabilitation — with credit-earning opportunities for continued good behavior, as well as in-prison program and activities participation. The aim of Proposition 57 is to enhance public safety, stop the revolving door of crime by emphasizing rehabilitation, and prevent federal courts from indiscriminately releasing inmates.

Protocol before prison population reduction

State regulators must give initial approval for changes in parole eligibility before new rules could take effect April 12. After a public comment period, final approval is possible by October. Parole consideration would be phased in starting May 1, during the time of public review.

Steve Wagstaffe, San Mateo District Attorney and President of the California District Attorneys Association, stated that the victim and the prosecution, on the public's behalf, deserve the right to be heard before any decision on parole is made.

Prosecutors and victims would have 30 days to object, in writing, to earlier paroles under the proposed new sentencing rules.

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